Scott-Aguirre: Principal of Centennial

Scott-Aguirre: Principal of Centennial

Aislynn Miller, Writer

Mairi Scott-Aguirre has been at Centennial for seven years. She first saw it advertised as an interim position and knew that the school had a good reputation. She wanted to be a principal, and took the chance with the interim position knowing it could just be a year but then it stuck. She likes working here in the East County. Before she worked at Reynolds which she described as similar but that Centennial is “stronger academically.”

Scott-Aguirre likes being a principal “usually.” She described it as that it is fun most of the time, but that there is always something else. She likes the students here at Centennial. She said, “The students can be delightful, and kind, that they can be challenging, and they can be funny… And I learn a lot about people from the world from working here.” It makes sense that she can learn a lot about the world from Centennial as it has 59.2% of Minority Enrollment according to US.news and has a 0.71 diversity score which is relatively high compared to other schools in Oregon which have an average of a 0.56 diversity score.

Overall the worst two experiences in her career were being at Reynolds during the school shooting, and this year with COVID. She was at Reynolds during and a year after the school shooting. It was hard and a scary time but Scott-Aguirre said it was nice to see people pull together and support each other. This year with COVID they knew coming back to school would be difficult, but it was a lot harder than they thought it would be. “All the adjustment,” she said, “and the time people haven’t been in school.”

On a happier note, for her the best times in her career was the “steep learning curve.” Those ‘first times’. Her first year teaching was great and fabulous. The first year that she was Dean of Students was “good, not great, good.” First year assistant principal was also good.

The most interesting times in her career were honestly surprising. She said they were two summer programs that she did two or three years into working at Centennial. One in Chicago about raising graduation rates and getting students college ready and that was when she started working on Freshman on Track. The year before that one she attended a program called ‘School Retool.’ That same summer she got to go to school at Stanford about implementing Design Thinking in schools. She said that she definitely uses both programs in her work.

When she first got to Centennial she wanted to raise math scores and get the bilingual seal. She accomplished one of the two so far. The bilingual seal is now stamped on students’ diplomas who have studied two languages. The math scores have been stuck but they have raised graduation rates. It wasn’t on her list of goals at the beginning because we already had pretty good graduation rates with the exception of last year. In 2020 the graduation rate was 89%. They changed it so you may get honors in regular English and they restructured the science curriculum so that all students take physics, chemistry, and biology. They expanded the AP options and CTE programs like adding AP Computer Science, a CTE strand with more Information Technology (IT) options, and Technical Theaters.

Raising math scores is not a priority at the moment as they are trying to figure out where the school stands after COVID, and next year we will be doing a curriculum adoption. So she will be trying to figure out where we stand with more testing happening this year.

Overall it seems that Scott-Aguirre has plans to advance the school and seemed to be enjoying her time here. It will be interesting to see what she will continue to do as this year continues and where she will take Centennial High School.